Race Recap: 56k Bear Trail (Voeren)

As I’m always up for a new challenge, I decided it was time for an ultra trail run after my 50k road race.

Browsing around my eye fell on ‘The Bear Trail’.
A trailrun which said to be +90% off road with a distance of 56km (~34.7 miles) and 1200m of elevation (~3937 feet).
I finished my 50k race at the end of June and this was up at the end of October, which meant I had a small 4 months to get ready.

My main preparation existed of running on the beach and trying to find some hilly surfaces around my house (which I didn’t…)

Although I didn’t feel fully prepared, I did wake up excited at race day.
Yet again the race was at a +2h drive from home, which I drove solo.
I almost found a partner for the race, but because of an injury in the end I was alone.

It was typical Belgian October weather, slight drizzle and not too warm. Excellent ultra run weather if you ask me, only problem was that the week before it had rained plenty.
The speech before the start was very straightforward: “Do not count on staying clean, after 1mile you will be muddy head to toe”.
They didn’t lie…
When the gun went off I started out at a decent pace, especially since the first .5 mile was around a soccer field and on asphalt, after that we dove straight into the forest and went downhill.
All fun and games until we arrived at the lowest point. Giant puddles of water and mud were waiting for us.

A nice single trail

At first I tried to avoid them, but I gave this up fast. It just wasn’t possible…
The climbs were heavy and instead of being rewarded by a nice downhill speed run, it was sometimes double as heavy going down, because before you knew it, you slided down instead of running.

I think I ended up on my butt about three times during the entire course.
But I had fun. I was warm enough and the sights were magnificent!

Nice sight eh

Running alone for almost 6h can be mentally challenging and I had my share of “why am I doing this again”-thoughts, yet running alone has the advantage you can do it all at your own pace.

After about 60% of the race everyone started walking up the hills and I still managed a slow jog most of the time. Having someone with me at this point would have slowed me down and it’s the long uphills that are mentally toughest for me.

I finished in just under 6h (5:51:43), which is more than nice for an ultratrail debut if you ask me. This meant for a 26th place out of 94.
Bear Trail Voeren – October 27, 2014 – 56k – 05:51:41 – StravaEndomondo – 26/94 (PDF link)
So happy yet again! 😀

Compilation of my run 🙂

Thank you for reading my report! 🙂

100k In One Week!

The commuting on foot has started last week and because of all the good weather and the “hey-it’s-new” spirit I added some extra mileage and everyday and just like that something happened that I have been dreaming of for a while now: the 100km in one week came in sight.

After Friday I was already at ~65k and I knew that Saturday I was running at least 25k at the HMS Vindictive Memorial Run. This meant coming short 10k in total.

Option 1 was adding an extra 10k to the Memorial Run.
Option 2 was running on Sunday.

As I started feeling that my body needed some rest, option 2 was soon out of the window, which meant I laced up an hour early for my race and headed out. The start was in my hometown, so I could run to the start point to get my bib.
Unfortunately, there was a queue at the bib-stand, which meant I still needed 2k after the 25k from the race.
Luckily there was an opportunity at the end to add an extra loop to my run, which I did and just like that I got to 100k in one week!

Strava proof of my 100k week 🙂

So Happy 🙂

I felt more tired this week, so it’s clear my body needs adapting to higher mileage weeks, but I really would like to run some more weeks like this before I tackle another ultra…

How much do you run a week?
Do you have a “dream” distance you’d like to get to?

Race Recap: HMS Vindictive Memoral Run

Last saturday I ran the HMS Vindictive Memorial Run.

Early in 1918 she was fitted out for the Zeebrugge Raid. Most of her guns were replaced by howitzers, flame-throwers and mortars. On 23 April 1918 she was in fierce action at Zeebrugge when she went alongside the mole, and her upperworks were badly damaged by gunfire, her Captain, Alfred Carpenter was awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions during the raid. This event was famously painted by Charles de Lacy, the painting hangs in the Britannia Royal Naval College.[3]
Source: wikipedia

As I am from Zeebrugge this is a nice way to commemorate the 100 year war.
I call it a race recap, yet it actually is what the name says it is, a memorial run.
We had a bib, but no chip, no timings were kept.

We ran from Zeebrugge to Oostende which is about 25km and it’s nice to run in one direction for a change.

It’s the second time this run is held and last year we had a strong headwind, which made it very heavy.
This year there was a lot of wind as well, but we had it in our back, so this helped a lot.

There was a man who ran the whole way in an army vest and combat boots. Respect² for him.

In the end we had to return our bib and got €2 back, which we could donate to the Marine Cadets (which I obviously did), so it’s a nice way to sponsor Great War related causes while actually having fun.

The race itself was fairly easy for me as I ran together with a friend who’s longest run in the last year was about 10k. So it was at an easy pace, I just enjoyed the weather and the company and got my miles in 🙂

 

Do you race for the first great war?

Link Love April 2015

As I’m spending more and more time on blogs I sometimes find some really nice blog posts that I’d like to share with you all.
Most of them are running related, some of them are not…
You’ll see that this month’s edition is from recent posts as I’ve had some “downtime” from the blogosphere in March-begin april (busy busy busy…)

5 Things I Learned From My Second Marathon (by Jenny Fagan)
There are some great pointers in here that can help (beginning) marathon trainers.

Marathon Training, is it fair to your family?
Tips for the marathon above, some food for thought in here.
Being the father of a 1-year-old I often find it difficult to start a 3+h run in the weekend…
Lexi & Jones writes this down nice.

A Sloth’s Eye View Of Paris Marathon
A lot of reviews of big marathons, Paris included. This one’s atypical and actually made me LOL 🙂

Morning Light Can Help You Lose Weight
New (running related) studies always interest me. I’m a bit sceptical about this one, but it may be a nice-to-know for runners who try to maximize their weight loss!

And to close off, some fun tweets.

Beach Running In The Sun

So a while back I wrote a post about beach running in the dark.

I stand with my pro’s and cons from then, but what I wanted to share is the difference between then and now.

Feet in the sea

Back in November it was dark, cold and lonesome on the beach.

Yesterday was a very different story.
It was sunny, it was warm and it’s easter break in Belgium, so the beach was full of families playing, some even in the sea.

First time going out in shorts, t-shirt only and no cap on the head.

Awesome birthday run (yes, yesterday was my birthday :-))

powered by EndomondoWP

Golden legs?

Not even a week after writing down I keep track of my Training PB’s, I get to adjust one.

My previous record in 2015 of 90 minutes in Zone 1 dates to only 2 weeks back, which made it my all time training PB as well.
It was the same pace as the previous one, but my heart rate was a tad lower.

See it at Endomondo or Strava.

Now, my avg heart rate was the same, my percentage in zone 2 is higher (8vs13%), but I crushed my PB with 12s/km.
That’s amazing if I may say so myself. (Endomondo / Strava)

I started running and couldn’t believe my Garmin.
First 3km were fast (<5min/km), but usually my pace drops a bit after that distance. But now I managed to keep up with it all the way through.

The weather was perfect though: sunny, but not too hot. Wind to cool down, but not interfering with my speed. And since it’s a vacation period in Belgium, there were a lot of tourists at the dike near the sea (my usual running spot), which caused enough diversion to keep me mentally occupied.

All in all, a very good run was had 😀

powered by EndomondoWP

Registering Training PB’s

My race schedule is fairly empty most of the times.
I run 2-3 big races a year and all my other races usually get decided very close to when they take place (and seldom are consider a “giving-it-all” thing). So in order to keep myself motivated I started taking note of my training PB’s.

It’s handy to see at a glance what my “All Time Training PB”, “2014 Training PB” or “2015 Training PB” is.
At times I don’t really feel fast or strong in the legs and it’s always good to have a reference at those times.

That’s why I choose to have a ‘all time’ but also ‘this year’. It’s not really motivating with a super day of training.

Training PB’s Evernote

I use Evernote for this, in a separate notebook. Keeps it clean and easy accessible.
It’s always fun if I break a training PB. Gives me a small runner’s high 😀

Do you keep your training PB’s? Helps it motivate you as well?

Review: Pearl Izumi Road N2

Intro

As the general rule states a shoe can only go for 800-1000km (500-620mi) I’m constantly looking for nice promotions of my regular shoes.
On Facebook however I saw suddenly that Pearl Izumi provided some free shoes if you were willing to evaluate them after a couple of months.
A local sports store was looking for people via Facebook and had an overwhelming response, among them myself 🙂
I did not “win” the free shoes, but due to popular demand all those who had applied could get a 50% discount on the shoes.
This was more than a fair discount and seeing that the fitting proved promising I bought them.

Specs

  • Weight: 258g gram (=9.1 oz)
  • Drop from heel to forefoot: Dynamic Offset: 4mm at initial contact to 7.5mm at mid-stance
  • Price: I bought it at €70, so that would bring it at €140

Full specs here.

Personal experience

First off, note that is a neutral shoe, which may differ with your own feet. Over- or underpronation require different shoes!

Ever since the first fitting at the store the shoe slid on my feet like a glove. So in very general terms, it’s a very comfortable shoe.
It felt like coming home and putting on my slippers.
This automatically made me sceptical for long runs, but more on that below.

The shoe, as you can see in the specs has ‘dynamic offset’, which means the drop differs from stance to stance and energy input.
At a 4-7.5mm drop, this is lower than the average running shoe, which makes it nice shoe if you’re trying to go towards minimalism running.

Automatically this means less cushioning than the average shoe. I have a decent mid-heel landing, which doesn’t make this an all to big problem for me, but if you’re a full-blown heel lander I wouldn’t immediately recommend it, unless you’re coming from another shoe with less cushioning and are happy with it.
The site says it’s a 1:1 Shock Absorption, but my Brooks for example absorb more than these.

The sole’s stiffness seems below average. It’s rather bendable, Pearl Izumi says it’s a 1:1 Energy input-output which I’m inclined to believe.

They are not waterproof at all, but this means it is a very breathable shoe.
Especially during hot summer days this is my go-to shoe. The air flows through them in a way that seems to limit sweating.

The breathability along with the general comfortable feel makes it a nice shoe for the long runs. Bear in mind, yet again, that the drop is somewhat below average, so I would not be surprised that some people’s achilles heel would hurt after +16km (+10mi).
Depending on what week I had I take these out or my Brooks with some extra cushioning. I prefer my PI’s now, but sometimes you just need the cushioning…

With their low weight and nice breathability, they make a more than decent racing shoe. In very wet conditions the sole can get somewhat slippery, so try to check your terrain beforehand.

In terms of durability I’m somewhat dissapointed. I’m at about 800km (500miles) with these shoes and I feel that it’s time for a new pair. Shorter runs no problem, but with the long run I start to feel it more in my knees than usual.

 

In summary:

I recommend this shoe for every runner who wants a smaller drop and has at least 1-2years experience in running. They need some experience when you go and fit them to know if this is the shoe for you. They really fit like a glove from day one, so this will be a standard pair in my closet from now on!

Rating

  • Weight: 4.5/5
  • Cushioning: 3.5/5
  • Stiffness: 4/5
  • General feeling: 4.5/5
  • Short run (sub 15k) rating: 4/5
  • Long run rating: 4/5

My Pearl Izumi’s in current condition. Not bad after this mileage eh? 🙂

Running To Commute

I really want to run more a week, but between work and family I don’t see it happening soon.
My work lies about 3-3.5km (~2miles) away from my house, so I take the bike to reach it.
Some time ago we were informed that showers are now available to encourage biking to work.
I do not need them, but it gave me the idea to run to work.

It’s not that I’m soaking wet after a So starting this Tuesday (Monday is a day off, hooray) I’ll run to work.
Starting with the most direct route and maybe after some time I’ll add a loop to my route.

But this means a daily workout to my body from now on, which worries me a bit.
It will be low intensity (I’ll jog, not sprint), but a workout none the less.
Which makes me quite curious what effect this will have. I surely hope it won’t get me injured, so wish me luck 😀

Does anyone else run/bike to commute?
Does it strain your body or is it just enough to be a healthy start to the day?

Goals For 2015: Quarterly Evaluation

Happy April!
We’re three months in 2015, so it seemed time for a first evaluation of my goals for 2015.

I already know it’s somewhat disappointing, but seeing I got nine months to catch up I’m not all that worried, especially because summer is coming, yaay 😀

2 ultra distances
Nope, not even one ultra yet.
Furthest I’ve run this year is about 32km (~20mi), so I’ve got some work to go. One will be no problem (see below), second I’ll need to think about.

+2500km of running

Nope, but I think this is very normal at this point.
However, I’m behind on schedule as well.
2500/4 = 625 Current status: 451
This means an addition of roughly 20km per month on average from now on.
Sounds tough, but I think I just make it.

Break distance record (currently ~57km)

Nope, but I am aiming at a 6h run start of July, so that should be covered then. Once it’s final you will surely read about it here 😉

Break duration record (currently 5:51)
See above 🙂

Nice-to-haves:

  • PB on the 5k
  • PB on the 10k
  • Marathon under 3:20
  • Run a nice trail just to enjoy the scenery (chance is, I’ll already get this at the end of January)

I did the last one with Trail Du Mont and will do it again with Trail Des Fantomes in August.
Funny thing is that ‘PB on HM’ is not included above, but I did achieve this last Sunday...

 

So how are your Goals going for 2015? Will you make it or do they need some adjusting?